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[sharechat] LTI 'Out West' with the NZSE (4)- Bendon Buyout

From: "" <>
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 23:59:51 +0000


In late 2001, managing director of the Bendon Group, Hugo Venter, in 
association with significant stakeholder AMP made a takeover offer 
for Bendon Group with an interesting twist.  Rather than offer to buy 
the company, they offered to buy the whole clothing business off 
Bendon at a price less than the shares were trading on the market 
before the bid. Other big shareholders, such as Tower Corporation saw 
the bid as rather cheeky and opportunistic.  By structuring the bid 
this way Venter and AMP could end up with all the business of Bendon 
with only 75% shareholder acceptance, not the 90% stipulated in the 
takeover code.   Then entrepreneur Eric Watson entered the fray with 
a rival bid for the company.


The doors of the saloon swung open and a crowd spilled out into the 
street.  It was the whinnying of horses ,the clap of horse hooves 
and the creak of waggon wheels that figuratively lassoed the 
townspeople as they swirled into a human fence around the travellers, 
who had just pulled up in the main street.

'The Magnificent Seven' as they were known, were respected more for 
the magnificence of their dress, rather than any magnificence in 
their deeds.   They were a group of clothing peddlers that moved from 
town to town flogging their wares, which it must be said were some of 
the finest in the old west.  But 'the Magnificent Seven' were a 
street savvy bunch too, who earned as much apprehension as respect 
from their customers.   

Sitting atop the waggon holding the reins was Hugo 'Quickfingers' 
Venter.  Alongside him was 'Nightmare' Nick Watson and no doubt 
somewhere in the back of the waggon were the rest:  Nick's wife 
Erica, their teenage daughter a shapely little thing who modelled the 
women's clothing, known as 'Numbers' (on account of her figure), a 
frightening tall stocky bloke who went by the name of 'Towerman', 
and the aging but mentally pin sharp partriach of the clan 'Gramps'.  
Not aboard the waggon was the last of the seven, one of the most 
feared men of the old west, 'Hell' MacPherson.  It was Hell that the 
rest of the Magnificent Seven had ostensibly arrived in town to 
rendez-vous with.

Venter patted the hind-quarters of his favourite heavy horse that had 
just pulled the waggon up as he surveyed the crowd that had by now 
swelled to a 5 to 6 deep throng around the magnificent seven and 
their wares.  He smiled.   But the crowd kept it's distance because 
of a cocktail of emotion: awe mixed with fear!  Venter had earned his 
nick name 'quickfingers' through doing magicians tricks to entertain 
gathered throngs such as this.  But the townspeople perceived there 
was a grander side to these tricks when things Venter had acquired 
simply seemed to vanish.  Legend had it, he had made whole factories 
disappear!   One thing of which there was no doubt was that 
Quickfingers, Numbers, Erica and Nick had a certain personal magic 
with which they were able to charm the public.   Yes, it was commerce 
that had brought the Magnificent Seven to town that day, but not 
commerce of the usual sort.

'Quickfingers', you see, had spent half a lifetime on the roads under 
the pressure of the public gaze.  He had started his working life as 
a blacksmith, but when that business hit hard times, he moved to the 
goldfields.  But instead of chasing a fortune from nuggets, he 
found a living working with the sluice tailings.  He set up a 
business called "China Clays".  Nevertheless in ceramics it was 
difficult to earn pots (sic) of money, and it became an increasingly 
hard business in which to 'urn' (sic) a living.  One evening the 
bankers repossession possie came around.  They took everything.  The 
pioneer cottage was stripped and Venter wasn't even left with the 
clothes on his back.  Late that night, Venter gazed up at the 
stars hoping for a revelation.   But slowly the head topping his 
mostly naked form sunk downwards in despair, even as his chin pointed 
towards his underpants.  It was then the revelation came to him.

"I could sell that!"

It had been a long road to clothing magnate stardom, and 
the engaging Venter wouldn't be where he was today if it 
wasn't for the other six.  But Quickfingers Venter now wanted out 
of the spotlight.  There was the potential dissention in the clan to 
consider, that his sudden step back from the limelight would create.  
 So Venter had come to town to consummate what he had masterminded as 
the ultimate 'quick trick'.   

Venter had always had a special respect for the old man of the clan 
'Gramps', or 'GrAMPs' as he was more commonly addressed, being hard 
of hearing.  Rather than sell the whole show, which would require the 
agreement of 90% of the others, he would simply buy out the clothing 
business leaving behind an empty waggon shell!   Venter's hands rubbed 
together as he contemplated the completeness of his own guile: 
showing up in the town with the least restrictions on business in the 
New World where he could slide such a deal straight through!  He had 
taken GrAMPs into his confidence.  GrAMPs thought the idea of cutting 
Towerman and the Watsons out of the business was great.  
Especially so, when a pilot shipment of clothing that had been sent 
back to mother England with 'Hell MacPherson' had been so well 
received, and future prospects a couple of years out, looked so good. 
  The strategy was clear.  Venter would step back from the limelight, 
taking with him the cream of his business, and split the profits only 
three ways between GrAMPs, Hell and himself.   This town was to be 
the last waggon stop for him, and the Towerman and the Watsons would 
roll out of town with an empty waggon!

But it was hard to keep secrets on a waggon, and unbeknown to 
Quickfingers and GrAMPs, 'Numbers' had got wind of the coming 
trouble.  It was a month previously, when she had shared what she had 
overheard over a late night marshmallow around the camp-fire with 
Towerman.  The rest of the Watsons, Nightmare Nick and Erica, were 
also privy to what had been overheard and it was that night this 
group of four had gathered around the embers at their own secret 
tryst.   They knew about the reuniting with Hell MacPherson, 
returning from his triumphant trip to England,  in a month's time.  
The Towerman would arrange for some of his own friends to meet up 
with Hell, a couple of days before their own waggon rolled into town.

But that was then and now was now, and in the main street Venter 
scanned the assembled throng, looking down from his vantage point 
atop the driver's seat of the waggon, Venter was looking for the man 
who signed up all the big deals around town.  Being a Cattle town, he 
had to look no further than the agent of the local Stock Exchange.   
The Stock Exchange agent saw himself as a strong and fair minded man. 
 Venter now sighted this same man, but the view through Quickfinger's 
eyes was an image of a willowy pathetic figure. 

"He won't give me any trouble", Venter thought to himself.

Quickfingers Venter called out to the Stock Exchange Man:
"Stockman, I've got some papers for you to sign off."  But the next 
moment Quickfingers felt a metal barrel being pressed into his side, 
from Nightmare Nick!
"Not so fast", quipped Nick.   "We know all about your little plan."

Stunned, Quickfingers re-evaluated his situation.  He glanced into 
the back of the waggon through the split in the canvas and there was 
GrAMPs struggling, but firmly bound and gagged.  His mind raced back 
like a movie in reverse, back to the night when he and GrAMPs had 
hatched their plan and that prairie dog that had brushed the side of 
his tent just as the deal with GrAMPs was sealed.  It was at that 
moment when Venter realized it couldn't have been a prairie dog!
"Numbers!" he exclaimed.  "And I thought I could count on her!"

But there was no panic in the heart of Quickfingers in 
his moment of surprise.  Venter knew that even as he and Nick sat 
curiously coupled high up on the driving seat of the waggon, a rifle 
barrel would be  being skillfully aimed from the second floor window 
of the depository building behind them, right at the neck of 
Nightmare Nick!  On the other end of that rifle would be 'Hell 
MacPherson', voted by the 'Mid West Photographers Guild' as 'the 
finest shot in the West'. 

But no shot rang out, and so it was the presence of the Towerman, who 
had now got out of the waggon, that instead got Venter's attention.

"The game is over Quickfingers", Towerman bellowed out, revolver in 
his hand".   "You can get down off your high horse now."  Towerman 
was visibly furious at Quickfingers attempt not only to edge him out 
of the business at less than it's true value, but to do so without 
consulting him!

As Venter got down from the waggon, hands in the air, Towerman spun 
his gun on his forefinger and gesticulated towards a wooden casket on 
the undertakers porch, two buildings down the street.  
"You won't be getting any help from Hell, either", he added 
triumphantly. "MacPherson isn't so tough any more", shouted the 
Towerman, as he cracked a wicked schoolboy smile.   

"Hell MacPherson is the body."


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